2 Jan 2018

How Astralink powers Augmented Reality utilizing Autodesk Forge


Forge is our application program interface (API) platform and supporting materials (sample code, manuals) as well as a community of developers who uses those APIs. Although Forge is intended for our customers and 3rd party developers to be able to use our web services, we use Forge for our development of the cloud-based services that we offer. Our Forge community can leverage Forge in the same ways that we do. Astralink is a member of the Forge community.

Astralink is a Quality Assurance platform for the construction industry, using Augmented Reality (AR) technology to bridge the gap between 3D digital blueprints (BIM models) and real-life construction field work. The platform actively prevents construction errors in real-time by comparing the actual construction state (as-built) and the BIM model throughout the building process. Based on computer vision technology, Astralink's patent-pending solution is mobile, fast, and can be operated by anyone.

Astralink programmers are using the Forge viewer to show and augment 3D models. They are also using the Model Derivative API to view the model offline and access its raw data.


  • Data Management API

    The Data Management API includes an Object Storage Service allows the Astralink application to download and upload raw files (such as RVT, SVF).

  • Model Derivative API

    The Model Derivative API lets Astralink represent and share its designs in different formats, as well as to extract valuable metadata into various object hierarchies. 60 different file input formats are supported. With this API, Astralink can translate a design into different formats, such as STL and OBJ, but the key one is that it can have Forge translate designs into SVF for extracting data and for rendering files in the Viewer.

  • Viewer

    The Viewer is a WebGL-based, JavaScript library for use in 3D and 2D model rendering. The Viewer communicates natively with the Model Derivative API to fetch model data, complying with its authorization and security requirements. The Viewer requires a WebGL-canvas compatible browser:

    • Chrome 50+
    • Firefox 45+
    • Opera 37+
    • Safari 9+
    • Microsoft Edge 20+
    • Internet Explorer 11

    This is a hassle-free way for Astralink to share data with its customers without having to deal with all of the peculiarities of these various browsers.

image source: Astralink

One of the reasons Astralink chose Forge was because it was important for Astralink's clients to be able to navigate inside a model by moving a tablet instead of basic keyboard and mouse gestures. Superintendents, Foremen, and Architects walk into a project site, hold up an iPad, and see a full-scale BIM model overlaid on the physical world. The viewer is "headless," so the Astralink app communicates with the API to allow for the best native-tablet user interface possible on a mobile.

Astralink developers are currently working on an integration with BIM 360 Docs.

Astralink & BIM360 Docs from Astralink.

BIM 360 Docs keeps teams on-track with the latest construction drawings, documents, and models. Teams can share construction drawings across the entire team and perform constructability reviews, manage issues, and RFIs. BIM 360 Docs reduces rework risks through versioning and permissions. Users can manage contracts and maintain document control. BIM 360 Docs lets teams publish, manage, review and approve all construction drawings, documents, and models from a variety of devices.

Astralink notes that the Autodesk Forge learning curve was steep, but the great samples from the Forge team helped jumpstart their implementation. They see the Forge platform becoming more of an ecosystem and less of a tool for startups. This will allow each startup to focus on its main competence, and the Forge will unite them to empower the ecosystem. To hear more from them, reach out to hello@astralink.io.

Autodesk has always been an automation company, and today more than ever that means helping people make more things, better things, with less; more and better in terms of increasing efficiency, performance, quality, and innovation; less in terms of time, resources, and negative impacts (e.g., social, environmental). Astralink's use of Forge is exactly that in action.


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